A loser of a crook and his wife strike it rich when a botched bank job's cover business becomes a spectacular success.
The sweet, funny wisp of a movie starts out as a parody of ''Big Deal on Madonna Street,'' then turns into a child's-eye ''Bonfire of the Vanities,'' before returning to its original mode as a caper comedy. Woody Allen and Tracey Ullman are Ray and Frenchy Winkler, an inept thief and ex-con and his upwardly mobile wife whose cookie business takes off and allows her to indulge her dream of being a Park Avenue hostess. If the movie suffers severely from attention deficit disorder, the jokes are funny (but mild), the screwball comic tone impeccably sustained and Ms. Ullman (putting on her Fern Rosenthal voice) and Elaine May (as Frenchy's dimwitted cousin) delightfully goofy. — Stephen Holden
2000-05-19 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of Small Time Crooks